Articles published in September 2013

The Math Beast Challenge Problem of the Week – September 30, 2013

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Math BeastEach week, we post a new GRE Challenge Problem for you to attempt. If you submit the correct answer, you will be entered into that week’s drawing for two free Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guides.

 

A retailer previously bought an item from a wholesaler for $20 and sold it to consumers for a retail price of $35.  After a wholesale cost reduction, the retailer reduces the retail price by 10%, yet the retailer’s profit on the item still increases by 20%.  By what percent did the wholesale cost decrease?

 

See the answer choices and submit your pick over on our Challenge Problem page.

Study In Your Own Style

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GRE Blog Learning StylesWe all have a way of learning that works best for us. Most of us are able to learn by reading, writing, listening, speaking, and doing: the world pretty much requires that we do all five of these. But, just the same, most of us are better learners in some ways than in others.

Fortunately, when it comes to studying for the GRE, you can do a lot to design your own way of studying to take advantage of your strengths. First, you have to know what your strengths are. You may already know. If you don’t, think back to your time in high school or college. Which ways of studying were effective for you? Did you find homework to be pointless, but learn a lot in class? You might learn best by listening. On the other hand, if you found it very helpful to take notes while studying, you might learn best by writing. If you aren’t sure, you can take an online quiz such as this one to give yourself some guidance in the right direction.

I suggest that you try to combine more than one learning style in your studying – research has shown that this improves learning. I also suggest that you make sure to incorporate the learning style that works best for you.

So what are some ways to study in each learning style?

Learn by reading

  • Obviously, the first piece here is to read the assigned reading in your homework.
  • You might find that reading explanations of problem solutions really helps to cement things for you.
  • Reading online forums can help you link concepts together.
  • Doing a Google search for vocab words and reading them in context can help those who learn by reading to form strong connections for the words.
  • Reading different solutions to a tough problem might bring you lots of insight.

Learn by writing Read more

The Math Beast Challenge Problem of the Week – September 23, 2013

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Math BeastEach week, we post a new GRE Challenge Problem for you to attempt. If you submit the correct answer, you will be entered into that week’s drawing for two free Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guides.

Screen shot 2013-09-23 at 11.00.11 AM

 

See the answer choices and submit your pick over on our Challenge Problem page.

“You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.”

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gre inigo montoyaMaybe by now, you all know that I hate vocab. It’s not my thing. It doesn’t come naturally to me at all. I have to make the flashcards, do the practice quizzes, and fight my way through it. One thing that really works for me is coming up with my own short, general description of a word. If I try to have just some idea of what it means, that’s probably what I’ll need for the test.

But sometimes, the reason a word is on the GRE is that we often us it wrong. Sometimes it’s just a common misunderstanding that’s caught on. Other times, it’s a word we’ve pretty much stopped using except in one context, where either one of the two meanings would make sense.

Want a couple examples?

  1. Peruse. Peruse doesn’t mean “to browse or glance something over”. It means “to read or examine carefully.” If you start using it that way in conversation, everyone will think you’re an idiot. But you should know it come GRE test day.
  2. Abscond. We usually only use this word in sentences like, “He absconded with the diamonds.” A lot of us think it means stealing, but it doesn’t. It means to sneak away, especially to avoid getting in trouble.
  3. Refute. We’re used to this word, and know that when you “refute” someone’s argument, you shut it down. But not just by disagreeing, as is commonly thought. “Refute” means to completely disprove something.
  4. Condone. We usually use this word in expressions like, “the school does not condone this behavior.” Well, the school might not approve of the behavior, but that’s not what “condone” means – it means “overlook” or “disregard”. If I condone what you’re doing, I don’t necessarily approve of it – I’m just not going to stop you.
  5. Consent. This one’s kind of like condone. If I consent to your argument, that doesn’t necessarily mean I like it. It just means I agree, even in a passive way or with a negative attitude. Read more

Free GRE Events This Week: September 23- September 29

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Here are the free GRE events we’re holding this week (All times local unless otherwise specified):

free

9/24/13– Irvine, CA- Free Trial Class– 6:30PM – 9:30PM

9/25/13– Los Angeles, CA- Free Trial Class– 6:30PM – 9:30PM

9/28/13– New York, NY- Free Trial Class– 10:00AM – 1:00PM

Looking for more free events? Check out our Free Events Listing Page.

The Math Beast Challenge Problem of the Week – September 16, 2013

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Math BeastEach week, we post a new GRE Challenge Problem for you to attempt. If you submit the correct answer, you will be entered into that week’s drawing for two free Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guides.

Screen shot 2013-09-26 at 10.30.08 AM

 

See the answer choices and submit your pick over on our Challenge Problem page.

Zoom In, Zoom Out

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GRE zoomI’m a terrible photographer because I don’t zoom in a reasonable manner. I try to zoom in on things that really can’t be appreciated without context. I try to zoom out and capture a whole panorama when the scene is too busy for any viewer to appreciate it. I suppose I could practice, but instead I’ve just stopped taking pictures and let other people do it for me.

But when it comes to the quantitative section of the GRE, I know exactly how to zoom, and I try to make sure my students know how to do the same. If you took all your photos with the camera on its factory setting, they would all be okay, but none of them would be really great. You want to get closer and more into the minutiae sometimes, and take a broader view other times, skipping all the details. The same is true when studying for (and taking) the GRE.

Zooming Out

Consider the following problem:

If x is the median of all the even multiples of 7 from 15 to 100, and y is the mean of all the even multiples of 7 from 16 to 104, what is the value of x –  y?

With your mental math camera on the regular setting, your approach might sound something like, “Okay, I know how to find the median. I’ll list out all the terms, and choose the middle one. After I’ve done that, I can find the mean by average out the first and last terms, because this is an evenly spaced set. Once I find both those numbers, I’ll subtract to find the difference.”

This approach is okay, and it will get you to the right answer. But zooming out a little allows you to look at the problem collectively, as a whole, and think something like, “Hey, both these sets of numbers are the same, since they both start at 21 and end at 98. And in an evenly spaced set, the mean and median are the same. So their difference is zero.”

Zooming out lets you pick up patterns in the exam and take advantage of the fact that you’ve studied them and notice them. It allows you to notice trends in the exam, which helps you know quickly what issues to consider and can also help you make an educated guess. Let’s take a look at another sample problem.

What is the average (arithmetic mean) of all the multiples of ten from 10 to 290 inclusive?

  1. 140
  2. 145
  3. 150
  4. 190
  5. 200

On a regular setting, I’m looking at this and thinking, “Great, I know how to find the mean. I’ll list all the multiples of ten, add them up, and divide by the number of terms.” By zooming out, I can realize, “Hey, I know the GRE doesn’t want me to do that. This test rewards me for reasoning; is there a faster way? Yeah, this is an evenly spaced set of terms, so the middle one is the mean. And I can find that by just taking the mean of 10 and 290.

Making a Plan

The purpose of zooming out (or zooming in, as we’ll see in a second) is to make a plan. Each question should cause you to clarify what information you’re being given (“What are they telling me?”) and what you’re being asked to find from it (“What are they asking me?). Then, make a plan. Read more

Free GRE Events This Week: September 16- September 22

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Here are the free GRE events we’re holding this week (All times local unless otherwise specified):

free

9/17/13– New York, NY- Free Trial Class– 1:00PM – 4:00PM

9/18/13– Atlanta, GA- Free Trial Class– 6:30PM – 9:30PM

9/19/13– New York, NY- Free Trial Class– 6:30PM – 9:30PM

9/22/13– Washington, DC- Free Trial Class– 2:00PM – 5:00PM

Looking for more free events? Check out our Free Events Listing Page.

Making Your Mindset

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When it comes to the GRE, your mindset can make a big difference. The test is long. The test is hard. The test is fast.gre mindset The people who make the GRE are experts in creating the feeling of, “I know that I know how to do this, but I just can’t seem to figure it out.” There are people who say that one of the problems with tests such as this on is that they aren’t accurate because they have pressure and unpredictability. That would be right if the test just wanted to find your understanding of vocabulary and mathematics, but that’s not all they want to test. They want to test how you deal with pressure. They want to test how you deal with unpredictability. They want to test how you reason, above everything else. So all those added difficulties are fair game. They aren’t in the way of your test; they are your test.

That’s what makes your mindset so important. You might be able to convince me that mindset doesn’t have anything to do with your ability to do math (although I disagree) or to remember vocabulary (I still would disagree, but maybe not as strongly). But you won’t be able to convince me that mindset has nothing to do with how you handle pressure, unpredictability, and reasoning.

So what’s a good mindset? And how do you get it? Here are some tips.

Crisis mode versus panic mode

I hope you haven’t been in a lot of emergency situations, but I’m sure you’ve had at least one opportunity to see both crisis mode and panic mode demonstrated in real life. Picture a situation where John is preparing lunch and cuts his hand severely. He calls for his wife, Kelly. In panic mode, Kelly would see the blood and scream, “Are you okay? Are you okay? What happened?” She would go to find her keys to drive to the hospital, then decide to call the doctor, then get mad because she couldn’t find the keys, then start yelling. Now picture Kelly in crisis mode. She appears calm, although she talks rapidly and with direction. “John, sit down and put pressure on your hand with this towel. I’m going to drive you to the hospital. Hand me your keys.”

Both modes are normal responses to a problem, but the chief difference is that crisis mode works, and panic mode doesn’t. Not only does panic mode not help, but it also hurts.

You have to approach your test in crisis mode. Focus, take in the information you see, assess the situation, make a decision, and follow through. The good news is that crisis mode can be artificially created until it becomes a habit. In other words, fake it ‘til you make it. Read more

The Math Beast Challenge Problem of the Week – September 9, 2013

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Math BeastEach week, we post a new GRE Challenge Problem for you to attempt. If you submit the correct answer, you will be entered into that week’s drawing for two free Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guides.

If c is a positive integer, which of the following could be the remainder after (c + 1)3 – c3 is divided by 6?

 

See the answer choices and submit your pick over on our Challenge Problem page.